Not by the Sword- David on the Coming Salvation in 1 Samuel 17.46-47

This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” -1 Samuel 17.46-47

These are the final recorded words spoken between David and the giant Goliath before David laid him flat with a well-placed smooth river stone.  Yet in these words we find more than just biblical trash talk, we see inspired words of prophecy, speaking forth to the final triumph of Christ over Satan the deceiver.

The key passage is verse 47 where David speaks to “this assembly,” or what we now call the church (the word translated today as ‘church’, ekklesia, is the Greek translation provided for the word ‘assembly’, qahal, in Hebrew), informing them that the battle is not to be won through man-centered wars and the skill of warriors in the field, but instead that God controls the battle and he will provide victory for his people apart from these means.

Of course, this prophecy finds its completion in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who destroyed death through his own death (Hebrews 2.14-15), bringing life and immortality through the proclamation of the Gospel (2 Timothy 1.10), and who has all things subjected to his reign through his resurrection and ascension to glory (Ephesians 1.20, 22).  It is by this action that we may find personal victory over death (1 Corinthians 15.54-57), not accomplished by our own struggling against evil (Ephesians 2.8), and it is in his spoils that we may share (Ephesians 2.6).

David knew who was at work when he went into the battle; 1 Samuel 17.37a, “And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’“  What a blessing it would be for us if we worked to understand God’s sovereign grace in this way!

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